Tuesday, 4 September 2012

LEJOG Round Up

Pleased we finished the ride in good shape and good heart. All went pretty well according to plan which was a relief. Planning ahead was fun but means you are committed to a schedule. Hence the relief that it worked out.
For those like me interested in stats we did:
1066 miles
Average speed 12.9 mph
Total ascent (and descent!) 51820'
Longest day 93.32 miles
Top speed 48.8mph (briefly)
Hardest day. Day 1.
It's true what they say. Hills are far worse in Cornwall and Devon than in Scotland, compounded by very hot weather and gale force headwinds!
Rest of the way though the winds were more behind which was v helpful.
Bed and breakfasts and hotels pretty variable but generally pretty good. I can recommend excellent places near Preston and on Arran, and places to avoid in Camelford and Mallaig!
If I ever did the end to end again (unlikely!) I would probably spread it over 3 weeks and reduce the daily mileage. More likely would be a cycling tour of the Western Scottish Isles which were stunning and good fun hopping on and off ferries. I would avoid the midge season though!
The Blog seemed to work well and I've had lots of comments about it, including from friends in Denmark and Australia! However people had difficulties leaving comments unless they had a google account. It would be good another time to have a blog to which it is easier to leave comments. Many thanks for the emails and texts though - they were nice to receive en route.
I think I will have raised about £1500 for the work on Gambia so many thanks for your contributions.
I didn't realise until about Day 7 that I could add photos! So here for completeness is a photo at Lands End. Also one crossing the Severn Bridge and another on the Mersey Ferry. Hope you like them.
Thanks for reading this. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes to all. Malcolm

Friday, 24 August 2012

Made it! The end of the end to end

Ok that's it then. I preferred Dunnet Head but I suppose JOG has to be done. Total mileage 1066.
Now having a warming coffee (its quite chilly here) before the lengthy drive to Edinburgh with Rob. Pleased to have finished with no aches or pains, just nicely tired.
Thanks for messages of support, they've been much appreciated.
The photo here isn't very good against the sky but at least proves we were here!
I may add final thoughts when the dust settles but look forward to seeing some of you at least soon. Cheers for now and thanks for reading each gripping instalment.

Dunnet at last!

Sorry about the pun but this is really the more meaningful end of ride. Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on British mainland (in case you can't read the inscription!). Orkney in background.
JOG next stop 12 miles to go.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Stunning arrival

Now at Tongue after a fantastic afternoon ride across the most beautiful and remote landscape. The sun was out, the wind behind us and next to no traffic at all. You could see for miles and not a soul or house to be seen. Awesome. Better still Rob arrived as I had my stop to celebrate passing 60 miles (I had a break at 10 mile intervals) and we then leapfrogged taking photos and admiring the views. The B&B is very nice as well and we are now in the hotel about to have a pint and some grub before our last days ride tomorrow. We did west coast to east coast yesterday and now north coast today! Great stuff! The scenery here at Tongue is lovely as I hope two of the attached photos demonstrate. There is one problem though - midges! Ok when cycling, a nuisance when stopped by the coast. Hey ho.

Lunchtime at Lairg

Well I'm feeling more tired today. Wonder why?! Had a good evening with Chris's friends. B&B was rather strange. More like using the small spare room in someone's house! We got away about 8.30 and dropped off main panniers at the SNH office for Rob to collect on his way to join us. Glad of reduced weight but still pretty slow up the hills. We've managed 40 miles this far though so 37 to go after lunch to Tongue. May be what they call a 'Steady One'.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dingwall 93.3 miles later

I hadn't been looking forward to today, knowing from the planning that it was the longest day, then to find heavy rain warnings. And we did get some of that and took shelter several times. BUT we had a strong tailwind much of the way and the A890 turned out to be a nicely graded road sober made good progress. In fact we averaged 13.5 mph which, considering the weight of the bikes, isn't bad. Tomorrow Rob is collecting our bags on his way up to join us so we will have lighter bikes from now. The photo shows one of the sunny bits on the A890/A832 with a mountain with an unpronounceable name. Traffic was pleasingly light. This evening we are meeting a couple Chris's friends who are on holiday here. The B&B is out of town a bit but a pleasant enough bungalow with a view across to the Cromarty Firth and the long road bridge across it. This is the furthest north I've ever been on the mainland! Until tomorrow that is .....

Kyle of Localsh

As you can see on the background we have just crossed back from Skye over the bridge. Easy ferry crossing and roads on Skye were generally good. Had one cloudburst though which soaked us and the roads. I persuaded Chris to buy a small umbrella yesterday as there are often no trees to shelter under here. Been glad of it already!
67 miles to go and feeling good at the moment so hope the rain stays away though just passed a sign warning of 'heavy rain'. At least the wind is behind us.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Mallaig - Phew!

Found B&B and got in at 1705 after a very hard but beautiful day's riding. Scenery was terrific and most roads very quiet (see photo). Loads of hills though which were very taxing. Sunny most of day but rained for last 5 miles but threw it down just after we arrived.
After one long climb there was a terrific descent and we both did just under 50mph! Fastest I've ever been on a solo bike! Average for the day as a whole was around 12mph though.
Landlord falls over himself to be helpful and the beds were deep in tourist information! Had to clear it to sit down!
I did write more here but then managed to delete it so you'll have to imagine the rest! Mainly to say I am somewhat anxious about tomorrow. 86 miles to Dingwall and rain forecast. Could be a tall order.
Thanks for messages incidentally. They are nice to receive and know someone is out there reading all this stuff!

Ferry from Mull

Now on second ferry of morning from Tobermory to Lochaline after 5 easy miles on Mull. About 70 more to go to Mallaig today. Scenery fantastic. Weather looks a bit shaky but hey! View is back towards Oban on Mull Ferry

Monday, 20 August 2012

Early in Oban

Mull Ferry. 0700hrs. Chris not at his best this early. Neither am I! More later en route hopefully.

Monday evening in Oban

Well folks we've arrived at Oban after a pretty good day. A shade under 80 miles with one ferry crossing from Arran to Cloanaig. Check the map to see route from Tarbert to Oban and you will see we were by sea on right, then left, most of the way. Lovely scenery even if cloudy. All went well until about 10 miles from Oban when the heavens opened and it poured for about an hour. I stopped and sheltered under a tree but after a while it's as wet there as outside so I carried on Eventually it stopped but I arrived very damp! Quite nice now so having a beer outside hotel on harbour front. Meeting teacher of the deaf friend from Worcester (Brian Perry) this evening. He's on holiday here! Small world. Rest day was effective and I would like to return to Arran another time for longer. Early start tomorrow. Have to be at quayside for Mull Ferry at 0710. I think we'll have breakfast on board! Pleased to learn that my brother Rob will be staying in same B&B as us on Thursday in Tongue then following us (carrying luggage!) to John O Groats on Friday. also meeting friends of Chris on Wednesday. Turning out to be quite a social trip! All the better for that!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Guess where or what on day off?

Answer in the next blog.

Steamy surprise

Spent the morning on walk to and tour of Brodick Castle but delighted to find that the steam driven Paddle Steamer 'Waverley' was doing an afternoon cruise round Holy Island. Too good to miss and Chris and I have spent half the cruise watching the engines. Beautiful machines and the ship creams along very smoothly. A nice little steam 'fix' for the day off. Weather rather dull today but dry until now.
Back to normal tomorrow with early start to get first ferry from Lochranza 16 miles away. Some long days ahead do hoping rest will be a good preparation.
The photo is over the stern. Note twin wakes from the paddles and Ailsa Craig below the ensign.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Arran Ferry

Well the first hour riding was basically in cloud so misty and damp. Not much fun. But then it dried up and we were making good progress so spirits lifted. Overtook some other LEJOGGERS en route but also heading for Arran ferry. After one cafe stop we got to Ardrossan in very good time for the 3.15 ferry. On board now and the weather is lovely. Sunny and clear now so the islands look beautiful all laid out around us. I've never been to Arran before. It looks massive from here! Hope the weather stays like this for a few days. That's a big ask I think! Fo now we are going to enjoy the 50 minute crossing and a welcome rest day tomorrow.
Not sure if the photos will attach but having a go. One on board the other on the seafront at Brodick (and not all the cloud came from the ship's funnel!). The B&B is excellent and the weather perfect so definitely a good start to our mini 'holiday'.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Thornhill 2

Wow. What a meal. Collected by Stam and Helen and driven back to Dumfries where Helen laid on delicious Scotch Broth followed by Paella and then Pavlova. All veg was home grown and it was best meal yet! Good company. Compared Gambia notes. She had breast cancer a few years ago and also does a lot of fund raising for Cancer Research. Lovely couple and smashing evening. Woke this morning to more heavy rain. 57 miles to the ferry at Ardeissan so hoping weather improves en route and is better for rest day tomorrow

Thornhill Hotel

Hills weren't too bad after all, especially as Chris rode ahead for the last few miles giving me a 'tow'. 71 miles today so total so far is 612 after 8 days riding
Nice to have at least reached Scotland and also the prospect of a rest day on Sunday! This evening we are being collected by a friend who also supports the school for the deaf in Gambia. Helen lives in Dumfries and I have visited her and Stan a few times before, but never on a bike! They are taking us out for a meal this evening.
Hotel is recently revamped. Basic but ok with wet room. Ready for a good meal!

Wet welcome to Scotland

Some contrast to yesterday. Poured with rain all morning. We gave up waiting for it to ease and ploughed through flooded roads to Carlisle. Welcome coffee on station when we arrived, then we picked up B Road that runs alongside the A74 to Gretna and the Border. Still raining so we pressed on and eventually reached Dumfries for a late lunch. River in flood here is dramatic as it is thundering over a huge weir and massive logs are caught and are churning over and over. Below average pub lunch and now heading for overnight at Thornhill. Just realised that like the Tiverton hotel the inclusion of 'hill' in the name may be an ominous sign!

Thursday, 16 August 2012


I thought today would be a bit of a slog and after lunch at Kendal there was the long climb of Shap on the A6. However it was a very good experience. The A6 was nearly empty and there was a strong tailwind and sunshine. The climb took an hour but the downhill the other side was worth it! Flew down at 30-40mph. I think I will drive on this stretch rather than the M6 as it is a lovely stretch of road! Chris came the scenic route on minor roads. Bigger climbs but he enjoyed the day too and also found the main roads pleasantly uncluttered. I'm having trouble with my right hamstring bit am hoping it will settle and not cause too much of a problem.
Penrith is a nice town and we are just heading out for a meal now. Thankfully my phone has started to behave itself. I must keep it dry at all costs I think! More news tomorrow.

Brief Encounter

Film buffs will now know where I am. Carnforth Station Refreshment Room! This was the place they filmed BE in 1945 with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. It is now an excellent exhibition centre and also refreshment room! Well worth a visit.
I'm cycling separately today and sticking to main roads as the gradients will be easier than the monitor lanes route I originally planned and which Chris is using today. We will meet in Penrith. The B&B was the best ever. Margaret the host got all our clothes dry, ran us into Garstang for a meal and was helpfulness personified. The house was lovely too - apart from rubbish phone reception! Thoroughly recommend it - Little Stubbins at Claughton on Brock.
Now heading for Kendal after being 'refreshed! here.

Thursday morning - wonky phone

Hi Folks. We are at the best B&B yet at Claughton on Brock. Got drenched yesterday but Landlady is washing and drying everything. Great. But my IPhone I think has got damp and is very erratic. I often can't get the home page so can't get the blog or phone or messages. Very frustrating. So I may not be able to post or respond to emails or texts or make calls. So bear with me! Also reception here and in Garstang is non existent. So hoping things improve once we get going. Feeling tired at moment and we have both got shoulder problems for some reason. Otherwise going ok generally. Lovely to see Charlotte and Lenny at lunchtime yesterday in Ormskirk as well. Penrith is the target today. Hope the phone behaves!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Made it on 'Ferry cross the Mersey'

Phew! We were in a real deadline to catch the last commuter ferry at 0940 so ride like madmen from Chester, averaging more than 16 mph for 20 miles. Might not sound a lot but it was! OK I know Wiggins does 30 but his whole bike weighs less than my saddle. We turned up at Birkenhead Woodside feeling pleased only to be told the ferry left from Seacombe! We powered there with 10 mins to spare so enjoyed the blustery ferry trip, landing by the Liver Building and offices where my grandfather used to work for Cunards. Now having restorative coffee in Costas in Bootle. Hope to meet Charlotte a little later en route then are bracing ourselves for horrendous rain forecast for later. Hey ho!

Tuesday's blog late - excellent riding

Hi again. Great days riding today. 81 miles but dry all the way and a gentle tailwind. Arrived by 1645hrs which is much more civilised.
Nearly ran over a weasel today or was it a stoat? Very thin and quick across the road anyway. Ignored 2 road closed signs and had no prob with either in getting bikes through! Still expected to get told off but didn't!
Stopped in Wem for lunch. No decent pubs to be seen but loads of elderly cyclists (ie prob my age) out for a day ride all looking for a lunch stop. Business opportunity there for someone.
I have some saddle soreness - just thought you would like to know - so am applying lots of special creams and being brave.
Quite a posh B&B in Chester. Given slippers on the way in. That's a first. My namesake Uncle is joining us tonight for a meal which will be good he lives in Ruabon which isn't far away.
So that's you up to date. Hope this isn't too trivial. Forecast for tomorrow afternoon is horrendous so we may be waterlogged at the next stop. Hope they have good drying rooms.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Monday - Bristol to Bewdley

Hi Blog Readers (is there a collective noun for you?)
A belated blog about a very different day yesterday (Monday) with heavy rain for a period but some useful tail winds. Emily and Tim Shurlock were great hosts, feeding us well and washing clothes etc. Many thanks!
We came over the Severn Bridge (which is impressive so close up) then I came via Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Worcester. 84.5 miles at average of 13.5mph which was faster than average because of the helpful wind. I enjoyed the ride more the longer it went on surprisingly and a nice surprise was to be met just before home by my son Tim who had diverted en route home from a job in Glos to see me! Thanks Tim!
Chris came a different route through the Forest of Dean but we arrived at similar times and both enjoyed being in our own beds last night!
Thanks incidentally for your support and nice comments, they have been very helpful and have proved a blog works! Keep them coming!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Fly past to welcome us to Bristol

Well it was a longer day than expected. 86.6 miles at an average of 13.35 mph. Fewer hills than in Devon but still a few to deal with. Our arrival was welcomed by a fly past linked with the balloon festival. Nice of them to lay that on. Warm welcome at Emily's and she's done all our washing. What a daughter! So nice to be back in Bristol. Still one of my favourite places. I've got to reduce some weight on my bike. I'm getting a lot of stick for the weight! May have to ditch the kitchen sink. Aiming for home at Bewdley tomorrow night. Thanks incidentally for messages. It's really nice to get them. More news soon

Late lunch at Wedmore

Decided I love Somerset. Lovely level roads for mile after mile and now found pub in Wedmore (that is however up a hill) and there's been a Christening so loads of sandwiches etc left over and we can help ourselves. Can't be bad. Done 55 miles so far. Prob another 20 to do.
More exciting news later from Bristol. Bet you can't wait!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Lodgehill Hotel Tiverton

The name should have warned me. Hotel up a steep drive which was insult to injury after huge climb between Crediton and here! Another day of nice sun BUT gale force headwinds which made it hard work on the Devon hills. 69.5 miles and another 5000+ft of climbing. Nice hotel -way better than the Countryman at Camelford which is not recommended. Watched 5000m final then had meal here plus wine. That finished me off so bed by 10 and instant sleep. As usual awake lightly after few hours of initial sleep which is why I'm writing this at 0220hrs! More sleep now I hope before what should be a less hilly run to Bristol tomorrow.

Lunch stop at Okehampton 1400hrs

Another sunny day but with even stronger gale force headwinds. I have been slipstreaming Chris whenever possible but still peddling downhill! Came across Launceston Cycles by accident and were invited in to sign their end to end book and be given free coffee and any help we wanted. Super bike shop. Thanks Nigel and Lisa. Do call in if in Launceston. Only disappointment was that the steam railway is closed on Saturdays. Just my luck! Crediton next headwinds permitting.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Lands End to Camelford

Phew! This will be a short blog as I'm knackered. Hottest day of year here and we had strong headwinds for most of day. Left LE at 0830 but didn't arrive at CF until 1930hrs. 84.5 miles and 5550ft of climbing! No wonder I'm tired. Joined from Padstow by Tim Shurlock (Emily's boyfriend). He's fresh, young and strong so I'll have to get used to his rear view as well as Chris's! Stopped at Parish Cycles near Portresth en route. Fergus there was very helpful and donated some energy bars - seeing us as a good cause, or perhaps as mad. Thanks Fergus. Now for a much needed shower then a meal. Hope tomorrow is easier!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Thursday 9th August

Had a lift to Truro with Rod, friend of Chris Early 0615 start meant we were there by 1015! Then had sunny and steady 30 mile ride to Penzance on country lanes with welcome cafe stop at Stithans Lake outdoor centre en route. Past Marazion and St Michaels Mount then carried onto Newlyn and Mousehole both of which were at their best. Lovely day all round and now ready for a couple of beers and a meal! Real challenge starts tomorrow - the full English Breakfast - never mind the ride!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Day 1 (b)

Don't laugh but this is a test from my iPhone to see if it works for me. Weather turning hot here do it may be a warm start to the ride if this keeps up!

The Day before leaving

Hi Folks
New to blogging so this is an experiment!  Pretty well packed and sorted although haven't ridden my bike as much as I would have liked in preparation.  Being picked up at 0600 tomorrow (Thursday) to drive to Falmouth from where we will ride to the B&B in Penzance.  Then on Friday we have a taxi to Lands End so we can make an earlyish start en route to first stop - at Camelford.
Hope this message works!